Counting down the 25 most influential figures in Atlanta Braves history
John Schuerholz’s first major move as Braves GM was a head-scratcher. Terry Pendleton, awarded the largest contract in team history, was coming off a year in which he had a lower OPS than B.J. had this season.
“Ten million-plus went to an infielder with a lifetime batting average of .259, little power and RBI authority,” wrote the AJC’s Furman Bisher. “Rare is the player who hits .230, then is rewarded with a 10-mil contract. It’s a high price for being able to catch and throw a baseball, and even then, Terry Pendleton made 19 errors at third base in St. Louis.”
It turned out to be a bargain. TP gave the Braves their first plus defender at the hot corner since Clete Boyer and quickly emerged as the clubhouse leader the ’91 team needed (“Good in the clubhouse” may be a cliche but it’s not irrelevant, regardless of what the Brian Kennys of the world think).
That wasn’t a surprise. His offense sure was. Pendleton won the batting title in ’91 and had a .880 OPS. He struck out only 70 times and was at his best when it mattered most. TP batted .364 against the rival Dodgers, .341 in late and close situations and .320 with RISP. And he hit .367 with 2 HR in the World Series
He was nearly as good in ’92 but started to regress the following two seasons. But he’s on this list because of what he did in ’91. TP gave the Braves credibility, something they had lacked for a decade. Here’s hoping he’ll be given a chance to restore credibility to the Braves dugout in 2016.